On Friday, December 14th, unspeakable violence took place at an Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. A 20 year-old gunman killed twenty children and six women. This horrendous tragedy has left the families and friends of the victims, the community, the state, and the world broken-hearted beyond words. How can we cope with this magnitude of grief?
In times of tragedy, especially this kind of senseless act of terror against innocent children, the feelings of anger, frustration, hurt, and sadness can be overwhelming and impossible to bear. The virtues of faith, hope and love can help us in times of grief by giving us comfort, meaning and purpose.
“Show me a hero and I will write you a tragedy.” ~F. Scott Fitzgerald
Turning to our religious faith in times of tragedy is natural but the kind of faith that I want to bring to light is faith in humanity. Six heroes were murdered on that awful day while protecting the children they cared for every day.
Principal Dawn Hochsprung and School Psychologist Mary Sherlach ran towards the gunshots. Reportedly, they both lunged at the shooter hoping to overtake him but were killed. A teacher, Victoria Soto, hid her students in a classroom closet when she heard the shots. When the gunman entered her classroom demanding to know where the children were, she tried to divert him by saying that they were in the auditorium. She was killed. Another teacher, Anne Marie Murphy, died while cradling her student in a hail of gunfire. The student died too but was in the arms of his favorite teacher.
Thinking about how Rachel Davino, 29, Dawn Hochsprung, 47, Anne Marie Murphy, 52, Lauren Rousseau, 30, Mary Sherlach, 56, and Victoria Soto, 27 courageously and selflessly reacted to protect their students is a beautiful tribute to their memory and humanity as a whole. It is in these horrific times that people show their dedication, courage, strength, and love towards one another, and in this case, it’s clear why these exceptional women chose their profession.
“Once you choose hope, anything’s possible.” ~Christopher Reeve
Although it can be difficult to feel any kind of hope in this tragedy, hope can keep us going. Our hope for peace and positive change has us shift our focus to what is possible, even in the worst of times. The practice of hope can be found everywhere in Newtown, at the playgrounds, coffee shops, churches, in a man or woman’s comforting words, and in the many kind gestures from strangers. People have come from across the country to express their condolences, hope and support.
Good is prevailing over this tragedy and that good makes the world a better place. We can be sure that the children and women who died are proud of all the kindness and love people have shown towards one another during this difficult time.
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” ~Anonymous, Holy Bible: King James Version
The outpouring of kindness, compassion and love towards all who were affected by this horrific act is widespread. Collectively, people have made such a difference for the victims’ loved ones and the community by giving away teddy bears to the kids, sending dogs for comfort, donating food, placing Christmas trees and holding so many vigils to honor the victims. People want to do something and they have. Their hope is to alleviate some of the pain and let the people of Newtown know that they are not alone in their suffering. At the same time, the givers feel better in knowing that they may have helped in some way.
NBC’s Ann Curry tweeted 20 Acts of Kindness where she suggested that everyone do acts of kindness in honor of each child lost in Newtown. Tens of thousands of people on Twitter and Facebook embraced the idea, some increasing it to 26 acts to include the heroic teachers. These acts of kindness, large and small, have been happening all over America. Love is present in response to this tragedy in all its glory.
Remembering the beautiful spirits of the children and women of Sandy Hook Elementary School with this Godvine video.